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Learning to Animate in Macromedia Flash MX  : Page 2

Lesson two of this Flash Tutorial Series shows you how to create smooth and detailed Flash movies superior to almost any animated GIF file. Learn to create lightweight and dynamic animations using Flash MX.


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Organizing Layers and Setting Type
As in the last lesson, you will begin by adding and renaming Layers in the Timeline panel. Layers are necessary for two reasons:
  1. They keep your document organized
  2. Flash will not let you animate layers that contain more than one object.
Create three new layers for a total of four, and then rename all four in this order, from top to bottom:

  1. "Motion Animation"
  2. "Motion Tween TEXT"
  3. "Shape Animation"
  4. "Shape Tween TEXT"
When you are finished, your Timeline panel should look like Figure 1.
Figure 1: Here's the Timeline panel with four newly renamed layers.
From the Tools panel select the Text tool. In the Properties panel choose the Helvetica font and set the type size to 28. Select a color for the text and choose the Bold option (see Figure 2 for an example of how the Properties panel should look after all you set all these options.)

Figure 2: You can view the settings for the Text tool in the Properties panel.
Next, select the Layer named "Shape Tween TEXT" and use the Text tool to typeset the words SHAPE TWEEN in all caps in the movie. Continue by clicking on the Layer named "Motion Tween TEXT" and then typing the words MOTION TWEEN in all-capital letters as well. Figure 3 shows how the final words should appear in the movie.
Figure 3: Here's what your movie should look like after entering the text for the animation.
You will now use Flash's Break Apart feature on the type you've created. The Break Apart feature uses the font information from your selected typeface to turn each letter into an editable art object. Breaking the type apart lets you create the morphing "A" that you see in the final movie (see the Flash animation on page 1 of this article) and ensures that the type will display properly on all client computers—even if the font you selected isn't installed on the client. Select both sets of words with the Arrow tool, then select Break Apart from the Modify menu. Flash will breaks the words into individual letters. From the Modify menu select Break Apart again, to convert the letters into art objects. Now, deselect all the letters by pressing Ctrl+Shift+A, then take the Arrow tool and select the first "O" in the words "Motion Tween" and delete it.


At this point, you have to turn the remaining letters in the phrase "M TION TWEEN" into a graphic Symbol. Symbols are important elements in Flash movies and you'll learn more about them in the next lesson; but you must create one now because Flash can only apply motion-based animation to symbols and not to actual art objects. Use the Arrow tool and click and drag to select the bottom line of type. From the Insert menu select Convert to Symbol. In the dialog box that appears, name the Symbol Motion Tween text symbol and then click the Radio button labeled "Graphic" under the Behavior option. Click OK. Flash regroups the letters and places a registration mark in the center (see Figure 4.)

Figure 4: This is how your Flash movie should look with the new symbol in place.


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